There is a tradition at the Malvern Retreat House on the last day of the Men’s Retreat. The men come together before Mass and share their thoughts and feelings of the weekend. Sometimes the men will share something from their past and how their relationship with God is growing or how much it has changed since they brought God into their lives. The stories they share can be very moving. One story I heard at the end of one weekend has stuck with me to this very day.
An elderly man stood up and gingerly walked up to the front where the microphone was. I did not know this man, but I had seen him at Malvern many times over the years. He always had a big smile on his face and you could tell that he genuinely loved being at Malvern. He always had a warm greeting if you passed him in the halls or on the trails. He introduced himself and how he has been married to his wife for 60 some years. He and his wife had been graced with one daughter who they truly looked at as a gift from God. They raised her in the faith and got her through high school and college. When she finished college, she moved out on her own and started her life as an adult. They were so very proud of her. This is where the story gets sad. While living on her own, a man broke into her apartment and murdered her. The man and his wife were devastated. They had just lost the love and light of their life. What is different about this story is how they handled their grief.
The man who had committed this horrible crime was arrested. The man and his wife attended every day of the criminal’s trial, who was found guilty. They never gave a statement to the press and were silent during the whole process. It was after the man was sentenced that they finally spoke. They went to the prison where the man was being held and they told him that they had forgiven him. They felt something as wonderful and beautiful as their daughter could not carry such a horrible burden to them as revenge or punishment. He told us that he misses his daughter, but knew in the bottom of his heart that to forgive would bring her closer to him.
We all have a sense of what is right and what is wrong…who deserves punishment and who deserves reward. What we need to remember is that we are all children of God. Also, we are all sinners. God looks at us all in our sinfulness and still calls us His treasure. His treasure is made up of many coins. If just one of those coins is lost, God’s treasure is incomplete. He sent His Son to look for those coins. We are those coins Christ has found and is still looking for. Once we are found, we need to aid Christ in searching for the other coins and join the Lord in the celebration as each coin is found.
May Jesus live in our hearts forever.